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Three Georgian border policemen killed

By Mzia Kupunia
Thursday, September 3
Three Georgian servicemen were found shot dead at the Georgian-Turkish border in the Adigeni region on September 2. According to the Georgian media the policemen found dead were Arsen Shainidze, Khvicha Birdzimidze and Shota Asanidze, reportedly residents of Adigeni, Kareli and Akhaltsikhe. The Interior Ministry of Georgia reported that they were killed with firearms at about 2 am on Wednesday. The police detained a suspect, 27-year-old Levan Gabashvili, also a border policeman, several hours after the incident.

Ministry of Internal Affairs spokesperson Shota Utiashvili told journalists that according to preliminary investigation the murder occurred after a quarrel between the 3 victims and their fellow serviceman. According to Georgian media reports the suspect Gabashvili shot the three men several times at the border post while they were asleep in their sleeping bags. An Interior Ministry representative said an investigation into the case is underway.

Earlier on Wednesday media outlets had reported that the incident happened at the Georgian-Armenian border. Later Armenian officials denied there had been any shootouts at the border with Georgia. The Armenian National Security Service said that the information that three Georgian servicemen had been killed in crossfire between Georgian and Armenian border police staff was not correct. “Nothing of this kind has taken place. No shootout has occurred at the Georgian-Armenian border,” Interfax quoted Armenian security officials as saying.

The Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has commented on the incident. Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze has told journalists that the incident was being investigated as a crime, not something with political overtones. As for the information spread by some media outlets that there had been shooting on the Georgian-Armenian border, Vashadze said this was “idiotic” and suggested that journalists double-check this sort of information with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before making it public.